4th Century Rome (101st Caesar): Constantius II gold Solidus, c.337-363AD, NGC CHAU


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Constantius II (AD 337-361). AV solidus (22mm, 4.54 gm, 12h). Struck at Aquileia, circa 337-340AD. The obverse features D N CONSTAN-TIVS P F AVG, with a rosette-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Constantius facing right. The reverse features FELICIT-AS PERPETVA, with a seated Victory facing right on cuirass, facing Cupid standing left, supporting between them a shield inscribed VOT X MVLT XX, S M AQ in exergue. RIC 5 (R2). This is a superbly well-centered and sharply struck example, with attractive light reddish toning. NGC certified as Choice About Uncirculated, with a perfect strike (5/5) and nearly perfect surfaces (4/5). Only one other example of this rare variant has reached public auction over the past four years, and it realized $7,600+.

A Brief History of Constantius II – “The second and worst of the sons of Constantine the Great…”

The Family of Constantius II

Constantius was the second son of Constantine I and his second wife Fausta. By 317, there were two joint emperors in control of the Roman Empire. The father of Constantius II, Constantine, reigned as a Western Roman Emperor and his brother-in-law Lucinius as the Eastern Roman Emperor. On 1 March 317, the two co-reigning Emperors jointly proclaimed three new Caesars.

His brother Constans was put to death by Magnentius, an ambitious soldier, who at once assumed the name of emperor. Constantius marched against him, but found that Vetranio, praefect of Illyricum, had joined him, instigated by the Princess Constantina. He finally, however, defeated Magnentius, and deposed the aged Vetranio, and thus became the master of Rome. Following the conversion of Constantine the Great to Christianity the Pope had gained in significance and became even more important following the removal of the court from Rome to the new Roman capital of Constantinople.

Interesting facts about the life of Constantius II

Constantius was born later that year in August 317. Constantine the Great therefore left three sons, who shared the empire between them; but two were killed early in life, and only Constantius, the second and worst of the brothers, remained Emperor. Sapor, king of Persia, was attacking Nisibis, the most Eastern city of the Roman empire, where a brave Catholic named James was Bishop, and encouraged the people to a most brave resistance, so that they held out for four months; and Sapor, thinking the city was under some divine protection, and finding that his army sickened in the hot marshes around it, gave up the siege at last.

The Personality and Appearance of Constantius II

Constantius was a little, mean-looking man, but he dressed himself up to do his part as Emperor. He had swarms of attendants like any Eastern prince, most of them slaves, who waited on him as if he was perfectly helpless. He had his face painted, and was covered with gold embroidery and jewels on all state occasions, and he used to stand like a statue to be looked at, never winking an eyelid, nor moving his hand, nor doing anything to remind people that he was a man like themselves. He was timid and jealous, and above all others, he dreaded his young cousin Julian, the only relation he had left.

The Death of Constantius II

Julian was extremely able, and Constantius II thought it best to keep him at a distance by sending him to fight the Germans on the borders of Gaul. There he was so successful, and was such a favorite with the soldiers, that Constantius II sent to recall him. This only made the army proclaim him Emperor and he set out with them across the Danubian country towards Constantinople, but on the way met the tidings that Constantius was dead. Constantius had died of a fever November 3, 361 AD. (aged 44) at Tarsus in Cilicia.